Massachusetts criminal lawyer Kevin J. Mahoney on the Militarization of Law Enforcement
Imagine sitting on the sofa watching an enjoyable television show, your seven-year-old granddaughter sound asleep beside you. Suddenly, a grenade is hurled through the front window, sending shards of glass everywhere. It explodes so close to the girl it burns her blanket. Officers dressed in full combat gear kick open the front, one firing a round from his assault weapon, striking the girl in the neck, killing her instantly.
Little Aiyana Mc’Nay Stanley-Jones never stood a chance. And very possibly, neither do a lot of other law-abiding citizens against a growing militarization of the police departments around the country.
A Troubling Trend
According to an article published in the Huffington Post, the use of combat gear and tactics has become increasingly common among law enforcement personnel. In response to this trend, the American Civil Liberties Union has sent requests to police departments in 23 states asking for open records on their use of military-style procedures. Among the issues of concern is what sorts of crime such tactics are used to fight. When Aiyana was killed the officers were looking for a suspect in connection with murder; the suspect lived upstairs from the unit that was entered.
The Growth of Police Combat Tactics
Whether a murder is sufficient call for the use of tactics which were once strictly the domain of our military is worth considering. Until the 1960s police departments were forbidden from such practices as per The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. This act specifically took the powers of military weapons out of the hands of local police agencies. However, the federal government has seen fit to ignore the act and allow for the development of police forces that have come more and more to resemble combat units.
Indeed, such raids as the one described above occur at the rate of 40,000 per year; what’s more, often these raids are for non-violent offenses. Is it worth the terrorizing of American citizens to maintain security? At what price is such domestic security wrought? The answer seems to be, at least from the standpoint of the federal government, that no price is too high.
The militarization of our police forces shows a disturbing trend of federal, state and local governments viewing all citizens as potential enemy combatants. While law enforcement needs to take reasonable precautions to protect themselves, too often they initiate unspeakable violence to thwart potential violence. The notion of limited government—the cornerstone of our political process—is eroding in direct correlation with the development of military-style police tactics. Where this ultimately leads is an America where government dictates virtually every aspect of our everyday lives, and enforces that power with mindless brutality.
If you are facing criminal charges, choose an experienced and tenacious Massachusetts criminal lawyer to defend you or a loved one. Call us at 617-492-0055 to schedule a free in-office consultation.
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